Eyewitnesses in Lebanon
- The below email is from a Lebanese friend who is explaining the
situation out there.. Plz forward to everyone.. It is the least that
we can do..
Letter from Lebanon
Forwarded by: Mark glenn <mrkglenn @ yahoo.com>
'Ha! I think I am becoming a reporter now! First, we are still safe,
but hardly anyone sleeps. The bombing has been continuous, day and
night with no reprieve. We are in the mountains and we are awakened by
the sound of the explosions. And it's not as if you can just fall back
asleep after hearing a bomb land. You can imagine what it is like if
you are in Beirut. The situation is extremely serious.
I want to reiterate that we need your help in disseminating this
information and hopefully getting it to the press. The news you are
receiving is skewed. This is a well orchestrated war that Israel is
carrying out. This is not a reaction to Hizbullah's apprehending two
of its soldiers. It becomes clearer by the day that there is a master
plan that Israel is executing. Israel has literally kidnapped the
entire country. One by one they are destroying every single road that
leads out of the country. Just this evening around 8:00 p.m. we heard
Israeli planes flying overhead only to hear a few minutes later on the
radio that theydestroyed a mountain road that leads to the Bekaa
valley. This road is further up the mountain from where we live, in a
primarily Christian village.
On the news earlier we heard that of the 93 Lebanese killed, only 3
were soldiers. As of 8:30 p.m. more than 120 Lebanese are dead and
over 500 wounded.
Yesterday they bombed a small port in Amchit, a Christian village
about one hour north of Beirut. Why? The Israelis got wind that a
French ship carrying medical supplies was arriving. Damaging the port
they prevented these critical medical supplies from reaching their
Yesterday, my niece was attending a wedding-poor couple-could they
really delay their wedding after months of planning? The wedding was
held not too far from Jounieh, a major port about 25 minutes north of
Beirut, a Christian town and definitely not a Hizbullah stronghold
(you know Jounieh of course). Everyone was on the terrace celebrating
when Israel repeatedly attacked the Jounieh port. My niece said that
everyone ran into the church and prayed. The bride was crying. The
groom was crying. My niece left the wedding flying down the main
highway while bombs whistled by. Nice memories for the newlyweds.
This afternoon, the Israelis decimated a small Christian village,Ain
Ebel in the south of Lebanon. The mayor was pleading with the UN for a
cessation of the Israeli bombing so they could evacuate women and
children, and eventually to get food and medical supplies. Again, Ain
Ebel is far from being a Hizbullah basis.
In the southern suburb of Beirut, Israelis knocked out all
telecommunications-both land and mobile.They just struck the airport
again, as I have been writing this.
This must be the sixth or seventh time, I lost count!
Over 1 million Lebanese, that's nearly one third of the entire
population has been displaced! Hotels, homes in the mountains are
packed to the brim trying to accommodate these people made refugees in
their own country.
Is anyone really still convinced that Israel is attacking only
Hizbullah targets? is anyone really still convinced that Israel has a
right to defend itself-and if so, in this way?
Even during the 15 years of war, never ever were all roads, ports, and
airports simultaneously blocked. When I was in Saudi, we would fly to
Cyprus then take the boat to Jounieh. Now there is no way out. Israel
has kidnapped and trapped the entire country.
There are more than 17, 000 French citizens, more than 10, 000
English, more than 25, 000 Americans and many more other foreign
nationals trapped because Israel has blown up all major roads,
bridges, airports and ports. Their actions are barbaric. The British
Ambassador made a public announcement on television telling his
compatriots that the roads are not safe enough to travel on for an
evacuation and urged them to just remain at home. How reassuring! You
hear news of evacuations, but we are all wondering how anyone can get
out when roads, bridges and ports have been damaged so severely.
Now, to end with a little story. A news item that I am sure did not
make big news in the American press:
On June 21, 2006, about three weeks ago, The Daily Star, published an
article about Lebanon expecting complete support from the UN Security
Council about a complaint the Lebanese government was presenting to
them. The Lebanese were following proper international protocol. What
was discovered? The Mossad has a network in Lebanon and has
assassinated at least 3 Lebanese citizens which the Israelis believed
to be "terrorists."
I ask here: What is worse? Hizbullah's kidnapping two Israeli soldiers
or Israeli agents coming onto Lebanese territory and assassinating its
citizens? It's like having a North Korean secret service cell in the
U.S. killing American citizens. Would the U.S.sit back and do nothing?
It's an outrage. Yet, Israel destroys
Lebanon with impunity and no one pays attention to the infractions
that Israel does. And what right does Lebanon have to defend itself?
If Lebanon, dared to do what Israel is doing to it now, it would be
I once again plead with you to get this news out. Israel is destroying
Lebanon while the United States puts its head in the sand! These
atrocities must stop!'
10:10 p.m. The bombs are exploding. Another sleepless night ahead..
Lebanon: Hard Testimony
War crimes, a moment of humanity, and Harper's shame
HAAN, Germany (Friday, 21 July 2006: 17:20:45) - AS I
WRITE, the dust from Beirut rubs into the prints of my
fingers from the keys of my laptop. I'm in Haan now,
near Duesseldorf, Germany.
Whatever I've seen happening in Beirut, the situation
in South Lebanon is so much worse, and seems to have
garnered little to no attention in international
I recorded an interview a German-Lebanese man who I
met outside the bus in Syria, just over the Northern
Lebanese border. We were waiting for our passports,
left at the border post on the Lebanese side after our
bus convoy fled an Israeli attack on the road a few
hundred metres behind us. [I will call him Rami, as he
asked me not to use his name as he is afraid of
retaliation on his family members who remain in
Lebanon. He spoke in German and my girlfriend
translated] He'd come to Lebanon two weeks ago to
visit his family in the village of El Qlaile, close to
the city of Tyre in South Lebanon. He said the first
week was great, getting to see everyone again, his mom
had just had a heart operation and was recovering, and
then the bombing started.
Rami says reports are not getting out about what's
happen in South Lebanon because its so dangerous that
no reporters are going there, which I've also heard
from other reporters. The Beirut correspondent for the
CBC News told me going to south Lebanon is tantamount
I asked Rami if there are any battles between
Hizbullah fighters and the Israelis in the towns, and
Rami said no. The Hizbullah fighters are bunkered down
in positions in the mountains, so the Israelis have
taken to bombing the towns and villages.
"Precise targeting": Israelis are bombing homes,
In the villages in the hills east of the costal town
of Naquora, Rami says the Israelis have bombed all the
roads and bridges, meaning nobody can leave and
supplies cannot get in. People are beginning to starve
and they're too afraid to leave the basements of their
homes. Now the Israelis are bombing the houses. He
says there is nowhere to hide and you unable to run.
Between 40 and 70 families from the town took refugee
from the bombing at a school, and then on Monday the
Israelis bombed the school, killing almost everyone.
Rami says seven families where sheltering in a large
house next to the hospital and the Israelis bombed
them. It took emergency crews two days to remove all
the bodies because the Israeli jets continued to bomb
it over and over again, killing some of the emergency
He was helping with the emergency crews trying to
rescue people from the rubble and get people to
hospital [the Israelis also bombed a section of the
hospital on Sunday]. The hospitals in his area and
around the south are running out of drugs, bandages
and all supplies, and don't have enough doctors or
nurses because many of them fled. This means many of
the wounded that could be saved are dying because they
can't be treated. These people are not yet on the
official casualty count. The morgue has so many bodies
that they had to simply start stacking them on top of
each other; a lot of the time they were simply
collecting pieces of people and putting them in bags
to store at the morgue.
Rami described how four members of a German-Lebanese
family were killed in the South when an Israeli bomb
hit their house. The grandparents were on the first
floor and were blown apart by the blast wave, while
the mother and young child were climbing the stairs
from the basement, and so were cut in half by the same
blast. The father was on the back deck, and was thrown
through the air by the explosion,losing an arm but
surviving, but has gone insane with despair and rage.
The Israelis hit the house of another friend in the
Red Cross. The blast wave tore most of the skin off
the front of his wife, exposing her internal organs.
She is still alive but is certain to die within the
next few days. His young daughter was also heavily
wounded and is now blind. Rami says his friend just
fell apart and started banging his head on a wall and
I asked him if there were a lot of people knew who
were killed, and he said it was really hard to tell,
because most of the bodies, if still whole, are burned
black and unidentifiable.
Rami says people are trying to flee at night with the
lights off in the cars, driving very fast. This is
causing a lot of accidents and making the whole
situation that much more dangerous.
After a week he decided to try and leave and get his
family out. He got them to a car and started to try
and drive up what's left of the costal highway. He saw
a Lebanese army jeep near them on the highway being
hit by a missile, showering his car with debris. There
was nothing left of it. A minivan with fleeing
refugees behind the jeep was also hit by the
explosion. He doesn't think anyone survived.
It took him eight hours to reach Beirut because they
had to use many backroads [the drive from south
Lebanon to Beirut normally takes a little over an
His family is now staying at a refugee centre set up
at a school in Beirut, and Rami, with German
citizenship, is going back to his home in Hamburg.
A moment of humanity
(20 July 2006) In Beirut the fabric of society is
beginning to unravel. The basics of life, even in
those areas not under constant bombardment, are
short in supply. Running water ran out for my next
door neighbour -- Ali Sayyed, another Canadian from
Ottawa -- the day I left (Wednesday), and my water
tank on the roof had stopped refilling, leaving some
10 litres of water left in the bottom. That's not much
when between your neighbor and yourself you're putting
up seven refugees from the southern suburbs of Beirut.
Fresh fruit and vegetables are hard to come by in the
stores because the major roads leading from the farms
the city are destroyed, and the Israelis have put out
a warning stating that they will bomb every truck in
the country headed south, whether it's full of
watermelons, garbage, water or fuel, just in the off
chance it might be carry missiles for Hizbullah. Most
shops sell out of bread before noon.
Today, the Israelis also bombed the largest
glass-bottling factory in the country, so the supply
of fresh milk and juice will run out in a couple days.
Given that Israeli naval warships are blockading
supplies from entering the country, they've blown up
the airport and the runways and the land routes into
the country, no new supplies are getting in to people
who need foud and nourishment. Every other gas station
in town is also closed as fuel is running out -- the
blockade would make it bad enough, but to hasten the
strangulation the Israelis also bombed the major fuel
storage tankers in west Beirut, at the airport, the
big electricity plant and in south Lebanon.
Syria has taken in some 500,000 refugees -- total
population of Lebanon before the bombing: 3.5 to 4
I made the final decision to leave on Tuesday, and
it's the hardest one I've ever had to make. I feel a
duty to report to every TV, Radio station and
newspaper that will listen about this unjustified war
and hundreds of innocent people are being murdered as
their country is pounded into dust. The official body
count this morning is 330 dead Lebanese civilians,
thousands injured, and five dead Hizbullah fighters.
The Israeli "Defence" Forces are committing war crimes
on a massive scale, and it is doubtful that any member
of the IDF or the Israeli government will ever be
brought to account for their atrocities.
I'd done more phone interviews than I can count with
anyone who can get through, and was sending out as
much information as I could to anyone I could contact,
but the barrage of missiles and bombs destroying the
neighbourhoods just over a kilometer from my house,
and the pictures of dead and mangled infants and
families bleeding through the TV screen was making me
numb and ineffective at doing work. I could not
properly describe the magnitude of the evil crushing
I am also only a freelancer, unable to tap the
resources the major media networks provide for their
reporters. If later the situation degraded to the
point where my life was immediately in danger and all
the foreign national evacuations had finished, I
feared I would be stranded and basically fucked.
The list of failures and ineptitudes of the Canadian
government and its embassy in Beirut to care for the
well being of Canadians in Lebanon is too expansive
and profound for me to address in this letter, and
judging from phone calls to Lebanon this morning, they
are still utterly unable to put together any sort of
effective evacuation. As one of the richest countries
in the world, this is beyond shameful.
However, my girlfriend, Nicole, a German citizen, was
leaving Wednesday morning on a German bus convoy
heading north through to Syria. She had spoken with
the German embassy a few days earlier about putting me
on their evacuation list, and it sounded promising,
but we were still unsure whether simply being
'boyfriend' would ensure that I would be place under
the care of the German government.
So, Tuesday morning we decided to get married. For
that we needed two thing; someone to marry us and
rings to exchange. A Lebanese friend of ours called a
priest he knew but was told it would take a lot of
paper work which could not be organized in a short
period of time. We then headed out in our
neighbourhood of Beirut, Fern El Chebak, then to Hamra
in west Beirut, and then Ashrafieh in east Beirut,
looking for a jewelry store to sell us rings and a
priest to marry us. During war however, people need
bread and water, so the food stores stay open, but
people don't tend to be buying much in the way of
luxury items. All the stores were closed. Despite a
visit to many a church, we were only able to speak
with one priest who asked us if we were Roman
Catholic. We said yes, and then he said that
unfortunately he was a Maronite Catholic priest and
could not help us, then he directed us up the street
to a Roman Catholic church, which, like many others in
Beirut, happened to be closed and locked up.
Back at the apartment, everyone pitched in to make it
happen. The refugees staying with us, Ali's uncle's
family and their neighbours from downstairs, went out
and somehow, somewhere found a wedding bouquet. Ali's
aunt gave Nicole a gold ring that she's held onto for
the last 20 years, and one of the young guys of the
downstairs neighbour refugees made a ring for me by
cutting and bending a solid copper choker Nicole's mom
had given her years ago.
Everyone gathered on our balcony, Ali's cousin
snapping away the happy pics as Ali himself lead the
ceremony, Nicole and I on either of his sides. We
exchanged rings and "I dos", Ali pronounced us Husband
and Wife, I kissed my bride, and, being without
champagne, we wrapped our wrists around the each
others' and shot Tequila.
In the tragedy that is this war with all its
destruction, this small moment had the beauty of
putting smiles on the faces of all us and reminding us
that there is still things to be happy for in this
world. We are still human beings.
'The witnesses are gone'; Israeli disinformation and
the dishonour of Canada
The next day, Nicole and I lined up with thousands of
others at Biel, the massive conference centre area
just north of Downtown Beirut. When we got to the head
of the line she announced to the German officials that
she and her Canadian husband wanted to be evacuated.
They let us in. We waited there for about 12 hours,
listening to the Israel jets overhead and the
concussion bombs in the distance, as busload after
busload of German nationals were carted away in
convoys. We were eventually put on one that left near
twilight. The skinny, decrepit highway in north
Lebanon brought us to the border with Syria around 10
Just after the Lebanese officer had taken our
passports into the border post for the exit stamp,
something exploded behind us. The bus drivers pressed
the gas pedal to the floor, flew past the Lebanese and
Syrian border posts, and didn't stop until they were
several kilometers inside Syria, where we had to wait
until someone went back to get our passports. We later
heard reports on the radio that the Israelis had
bombed the road, a Canadian bus convoy coming up
behind us had been blocked and had to turn around, and
the Syrians were closing the border. From there we
drove to Turkey, and to an airport near the coast at
Adana, where a German Airforce Luftwaffe Airbus A310
flew us to Cologne.
Did I deserve to leave any more than anyone else
trapped in Lebanon? No. But no German was displaced by
me, and having been made painfully aware of the
incompetence of my government and its inability to
help me in a crisis situation, there was no other
choice. Now I can only pray that by some miracle
others left behind will find a way out, or at least
Israel has issued another call telling people in South
Lebanon to flee, but they are not letting them leave
because they keep bombing vehicles on the roads.
There's been small Israeli invasions over the border
with troops and tanks, but they're now calling up
thousands of reservists and putting up to four
divisions of troops on the border.
Also, with the mass exodus of foreigners from Lebanon,
the depravity of the killing can only intensify, the
idea being 'the witnesses are gone.'
I remember on the second or third day I heard of a
statement concerning the Israeli offensive by my
honourable Prime Minister Stephen Harper, to the
effect of "Israeli has the right to defend itself."
And as I was thinking this we were watching footage on
TV from the village of Dweir in the area of Nabatieh,
where an Israeli missile had brought down a house
where a family of ten where sheltering. They were all
killed, and emergency people were now digging their
corpses out of the smashed concrete.
One of diggers stopped as he passed by the camera and
held up a body he was carrying by its under arms. She
wasn't heavy, would have stood hip height if she
could, maybe eight-years old, maybe 10 or 12, it was
kind of hard to tell.
She was covered in grey dust from her shoeless toes to
the curls on her drooping head, and as the camera
panned past her lifeless face you could see the blood
caked beneath her nose, and I thought, what exactly is
Israeli defending itself from? I guess if she had
survived, when she grew up she might hate the people
who'd killed her family, destroyed her home and the
homes of her neighbours and flattened her country.
This in turn could place her in the category of
'potential security threat.' So to avoid such
'potential threats' that living children may pose
later on, Israel is killing them now in Lebanon. It
all makes complete sense.
Halifax native Spencer Osberg is a journalist with the
English-language Daily Star of Beirut and a former
intern with shunpiking magazine
Comments to : shunpike @ shunpiking.com
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